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Last updated on 7 April 2017
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What are school governors' duties regarding pupils with SEN? We outline the duty to provide education for children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. We refer to the Governance Handbook, Children and Families Act 2014, SEND Code of Practice and SEND Regulations 2014.

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  1. Governors' responsibilities in relation to SEN
  2. Link governor for SEND
  3. Reporting on SEND provision
  4. Accessibility plans
  5. Appointing a SENCO

Governors' responsibilities in relation to SEN

KeyDoc: SEN jargon buster

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We have created a glossary of key terms related to SEN.

It explains aspects of SEN such as:

  • The annual review
  • The information report
  • The local offer
  • Personal budgets

You can download the jargon buster by clicking on the following link:

In practice, the governing board's functions to meet these duties can be delegated...

All governing boards have legal duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

In practice, the governing board can delegate these functions to a committee, an individual governor or the headteacher. However, the responsibility to ensure that the functions are carried out remains with the governing board itself.

Governing boards must:

  • Co-operate with the local authority in reviewing the provision that is available locally and developing the local offer
  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEND gets the support they need – this means doing everything they can to meet children and young people’s SEND
  • Ensure that children and young people with SEND engage in the activities of the school alongside pupils who do not have SEND
  • Inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child
  • Ensure that arrangements are in place in schools to support pupils at school with medical conditions
  • Have a clear approach to identifying and responding to SEND
  • Record accurately and keep up to date the provision made for pupils with SEND
  • Publish information on their websites about the implementation of the board’s policy for pupils with SEND (the school SEN information report)
  • Publish information about the arrangements for the admission of pupils with disabilities, the steps taken to prevent them being treated less favourably than others, the facilities provided to assist access, and their accessibility plans
  • Ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) for the school
  • Determine their approach to using their resources to support the progress of pupils with SEND 

Link governor for SEND

Page 66 of the Governance Handbook says there should be an individual on the board or a committee with specific oversight for the school's arrangements for SEND.

Another article from The Key looks at this role in more detail.  

Reporting on SEND provision

Under the SEND Regulations 2014, the governing bodies of maintained schools, maintained nursery schools and academies must publish information about their SEN provision.

Information on SEND provision should be easily accessible to parents and young people and should be reviewed annually. This is set out in paragraphs 6.79 and 6.81 of the SEND Code of Practice. 

A further article from The Key has more information on the requirements for the SEN information report. Another article looks at SEN policies. 

Accessibility plans

Schools must draw up and implement an 'accessibility plan' for pupils with disabilities that aims to:

  • Increase the extent to which pupils with disabilities can participate in the curriculum
  • Improve the physical environment of schools to enable pupils with disabilities to take better advantages of education, benefits, facilities and services provided
  • Improve the availability of accessible information to pupils with disabilities

It adds that schools must also take into account the need to provide adequate resources to implement the plan, and must regularly review it.

The plan can be a stand-alone document or form part of another document (for example the school development plan).

A further article from The Key sets out advice from the DfE on what an accessibility plan should contain. It also features a KeyDoc checklist to help you when writing or reviewing your own accessibility plan.

Appointing a SENCO

Governing boards of mainstream schools must ensure that a member of staff is designated as the SENCO.

The SENCO must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENCO who has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months must achieve the National Award in SEN Co-ordination within three years of appointment.

Governing boards of mainstream schools must ensure that a member of staff is designated as the SENCO

The governing board should ensure that the SENCO’s key responsibilities are outlined and monitor how effectively they are carried out.

This is set out in paragraph 6.84 on page 108 of the SEND Code of Practice, linked to above. 

A representative from nasen told us that although special schools are not required to have a designated SENCO, it is still advisable for them to have a qualified teacher working in a role with responsibility for overseeing and co-ordinating the provision of SEN.

This article was updated in response to a question from a governor at a large secondary school in London.

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